News Criminal Defence 22nd Sep 2017

3 members appear for the Rooney family in biggest ever prosecution of ‘slavery’ offences – Operation Pottery

Operation Pottery was an investigation brought by the Lincolnshire Police that sought to investigate one extended family – The Rooney family – who were suspected of the ill treatment of workers. The investigation was wide ranging and by its conclusion and the start of the prosecution it encompassed a wide variety of offences from violence to tax fraud, but the main focus of the case was the Modern Slavery Act. The Rooney case became the biggest prosecution for ‘slavery’ offences under the Modern Slavery Act to date. The first trial saw a number of vulnerable individuals who had been offered work by the defendants give evidence about their conditions, pay and treatment. Although the trials were conducted with reporting restrictions in place once these were lifted the case was widely reported both in the national media and in the press.

BBC Report here.

In addition to the allegations under the Modern Slavery Act there were also indictments alleging a series of frauds – both in the carrying on of building work and, more seriously, in the  fraudulent obtaining of freehold title to a number of properties. These freeholds were obtained, often with the assistance of solicitors who were unaware of the fraud, by persuading elderly or otherwise vulnerable people to bequeath the freehold to their properties to the defendants. The money generated from these frauds was the subject of an organised system of laundering,  using devices such as the use of bank accounts removed from those involved in the frauds and the purchase and re-sale of performance motor vehicles from unwitting car dealerships. Much of the evidence in the fraud cases involved analysis of the cognitive abilities of those bequeathing the properties and their mental capacity at the time that they signed wills, many were now either deceased or unfit to give evidence through age and so the prosecution case rested on evidence from medical professionals and solicitors.

Leon Kazakos was instructed by Grant Ambridge of Murrays Solicitors.

Sallie Bennett-Jenkins QC and Harry Bentley were instructed by Lee Adams of Hughmans.

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